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Friday, October 19, 2012
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D'Var Torah

Lee I. Sherman

The story of Noach and the Flood is one of the most familiar of Bible stories. In the Western World, regardless of religion or denomination, most children know about the righteous Noach, his family, the evil that surrounded them, God's determination to save the world through Noach, his Ark, and the animals that accompanied him. And yet each year, as Jews, we reread this and each of our Torah passages, and continue to find subtleties and connections that give our readings new and different meanings.

The great storyteller Isaac Bashevis Singer remarked on the exercise of reading and rereading Biblical stories: "Whenever I take the Bible down from my bookcase and I begin to read, I cannot put it down. I always find new aspects, new facts, new tensions, new information in it. I sometimes imagine that, while I sleep or walk, some hidden scribe invades my house and puts new passages, new names, new events into this wonderful book.It is the good luck of the Jewish people, and also of all people, that they were given a book like this.It is God's greatest gift to humanity."

I have had the pleasure of writing Shabbat messages for the past four and a half years. I am not trained as a scholar and my Hebrew School teachers many years ago would no doubt agree that I have no particular aptitude for Biblical exegesis. But, I do enjoy reading stories and examining the words for reflections of our current situation and my place in the world. And, as Singer so elegantly stated, there is no end to the new discoveries that are available in Torah.

Enjoy a peaceful and reflective Shabbat.
Unlocking the Values of Jewish Service-LearningJCSANA logo for contest
The Jewish Communal Service Association of North America  is holding a conference call on Unlocking the Values of Jewish Service-Learning. Lee Sherman, President/CEO of AJFCA will be presenting "Bringing Jewish Service-Learning into Legacy Organizations."

Join Lee and presenters from around the Jewish community for Unlocking the Values of Jewish Service-Learning on Thursday, October 25th at 2:00pm ET. For more information and to register visit www.jcsana.org
Mordechai Walfish, Repair the World - Historical Overview of the Field
Aaron Dorfman, American Jewish World Service - From Service-Learning to Activism
Stephanie Ruskay, Avodah - Service as a Lifetime Commitment
Lee Sherman, AJFCA - Bringing Jewish Service-Learning into Legacy Organizations

Unlocking the Values of Jewish Service-Learning
Thursday, October 25th, 2:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
AJFCA Addictions Group Holds Second Practice Group Conference Call
The AJFCA Addictions Practice Group had a fabulous conference call on October 17th. Participating agencies included Detroit, Atlanta, New York and Seattle. ajfca logo-resized
The professionals on the call shared information about the addictions practices in their local communities. The group exchanged ideas on Jewish programming, including Sober Shabbat and Freedom Seder with a Sober Haggadah, and Jewish Board of Family & Children's Services (JBFCS) announced their second Sober Birthright trip. The group also collaborated on a national effort to raise awareness to addictions issues. AJFCA is pleased to work together with this dedicated group of professionals. If there are any addictions professionals from AJFCA member agencies who would like to join this group, please email Megan.
24 Days to the GeGA Baltimore 2012neral Assembly
The North American Jewish event is right around the corner. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is creating a special message for the GA community, which will be featured at the conference. Stay tuned for breaking news and updates. Don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues to register as well, so that your entire community can benefit from all the GA has to offer. Lee Sherman, AJFCA CEO/President, Shelley Rood, AJFCA Washington Director, and Jennie Gates Beckman, AJFCA Manager of Civic Engagement & Repair the World Programming will be on site. Email Sandy to let AJFCA know if you're coming. 
  • Review the program schedule to begin to chose which sessions and receptions you'll be attending.  
  • Discover the top 11 things to do in Baltimore other than the GA.
  • Continue checking www.GeneralAssembly.org daily for program and speaker updates like the Jewish Book Council Author Series which will feature Ruth Andrew Ellenson, Rabbi Daniel Gordis and Professor Jonathan Sarna, among others.
  • Tweet about the #JFNAGA via Twitter.
  • Look for the GA app, which will be available October 25th in the iTunes Store.
  • Make sure to read the GA Daily, once you're on site as it is filled with important information about room changes, new opportunities and fun facts. Remember to visit the JFNA booth, and attend workshops and the Baltimore Community Event! 
Opening Abraham's Tent: The Disability Inclusion Initiative
The Jewish Federations of North America, the Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund, the Jewish Funders Network, and the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes are pleased to announce the creation of a conference dedicated to a discussion of how to build Jewish communities that are more inclusive of individuals with disabilities and their families.

Opening Abraham's Tent: The Disability Inclusion Initiative
Tuesday, November 13th, 6:45pm-10:00pm
Wednesday, November 14th, 7:45am-3:00pm
Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards
Baltimore, Maryland

Featuring Keynote Address by Governor Jack Markell of Delaware Chair, National Governors Association sharing his vision for improving employment outcomes for the disability community as well as sessions focusing on
  • the difficult concepts and questions communities must address in order to develop a culture of inclusion
  • how to develop the tools that allow a community to make an immediate impact on inclusion for individuals with disabilities, their loved ones and caregivers
  • the issue of inclusion from the perspective of funders
  • a look at innovative best practices addressing individual issues within the broader context of inclusion  
This conference jfna logowill feature leaders with experience in helping communities to promote a culture of inclusion and will provide an opportunity for federation professionals, family service agency professionals, educators, planners and lay leaders to develop the tools necessary to begin the effort to accomplish this important goal.  
Please join JFNA as they gather to discuss how we can work together to achieve the goal of building accessible, accepting, accommodating and welcoming Jewish communities for individuals with disabilities and their families. 

Registration for the Disability Inclusion Initiative
Click here if you plan to attend the 2012 General Assembly and the Disability Inclusion Initiative - $82
Click here if you only plan to attend the Disability Inclusion Initiative - $118
For more information about this conference, visit http://jfeds.org/inclusionGA or contact David Feinman with JFNA.
AJFCA Member Agencies Work with SafeLink to Help Those in Need
While the presidential candidates travel around the country discussing their respective plans to help Americans in this struggling economy, AJFCA member agencies are taking it isafelinknto their own hands to seek out programs that will help better serve their clients in these tough times. That is why member agencies are enrolling individuals in SafeLink Wireless, a government supported program that provides a free cell phone and free airtime each month to low-income individuals.

Through this program, not only will member agencies be providing individuals in need with access to the multitude of benefits that come with owning a cell phone, but agencies can also generate revenue for all successful enrollments in the program! These additional funds will allow agencies to better serve the families and children in their communities.

AJFCA is pleased to partner with SafeLink and we hope you will take advantage of this opportunity. If you would like more information on SafeLink please visit the website or contact Elliot Patton
Update on U.S. Elections
You all know that the national elections will take place in three weeks. We do not know who will triumph as polls have tightened.
  • In the Presidential race, the final margin will be close. As has been known for months, the final decision will be based on the swing states with this year's nominees really focused on nine battlegrounds:  Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. Certainly, in many of these states, significant Jewish populations could have an impact.
  • In the House, Republicans are likely to retain control, although by a narrower margin than their current 50 seat majority.  
  • The Senate is up for grabs. The Democrats, currently hold 53 seats (including two independents who vote with them) but 23 of these seats are up this year, compared to 10 for the Republicans. Many of these states remain competitive. We don't know who will win a majority (and as you know with the Senate filibuster rules a majority in the Senate does not translate into total control), but the most likely outcome now is that whichever party wins the Presidential contest will also win control of the Senate by a narrow margin. 
As you understand, which party controls the Presidency and the two chambers of Congress has consequences for the Federations' public policy priorities for next year and beyond.

Click here to learn more.
Capitalizing on Emerging Jewish Charitable Markets: New Donors, New Causes and the New Normal
As expressed in several of eJewish Philanthropy's previous articles, recent trends indicate that generational, geographic, and gender shifts, as well as the expanded use of social media, have significantly influenced philanthropy and have created new and some worrisome trends in giving. Notably, Jewish causes are receiving decreased financial support, especially from Jewish donors who are now especially giving to causes outside of the Jewish community.
ejewish philanthropy
Specifically, two of the largest Jewish organizations in the United States have experienced a dramatic loss in their donor base. According to their latest tax filings, the Anti-Defamation League has lost more than $20 million in annual contributions over the past five years, going from more than $73 million in 2006 down to $51 million in 2010. Similarly, the American Jewish Committee, which brought in $62 million in donations in 2005, raised only $38 million in 2010.

Click here to learn more about new donors, new causes and the new normal.
Moving Beyond Natural Disasters: How Global Development Organizations are Using Mobile Phones to Engage Supporters
The rise of mobile phones in recent years has substantially affected the work of global development organizations, and a few high-profile examples have made the news, such as the large-scale mobile-giving campaigns to provide relief following the 2010 Haiti earthquake and Japan's 2011 tsunami. But beyond natural disasters, can organizations-including smaller nonprofits-make use of the technology by applying the model on a more-suitable scale?

Idealware talked to four large global development organizations and two consultants to find out how they're using mobile technology to reach out to constituents, and whether smaller organizations can emulate their methods. This report highlights their approaches to a number of different technologies, including mobile websites, texting, mobile giving, QR codes and mobile apps: what they're using, what's working and what's not.

This 26-page report provides an overview of what Idealware learned  as well as detailed case studies of four organizations-Save the Children, American Jewish World Services, Heifer International and the Salvation Army-using mobile in interesting ways to see what smaller organizations in all sectors can learn from their experience.
Senior Fundraisers and CEO's Don't See Eye to Eye
As turnover among fundraisers becomes a growing problem for nonprofits, a new study suggests that the revolving door in development offices may be due to a big gap in how chief executives and development officers see the process of attracting donations.

The study, conducted by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, questioned 70 community-college leaders and 137 chief fundraisers at such institutions.

The biggest difference between those interviewed came when they were asked whether the top fundraisers had the resources they needed to increase giving.
Fifty-five percent of chief executives said their fundraisers had what they needed, but only 24 percent of chief development officers said the same.

Other differences were also stark: For example, 89 percent of the chief executives said they understand thechronicle philanthropy fundraising process, but only 63 percent of the senior fundraisers said their chief executive did.

Among the other findings:
  • More than two-thirds of chief executives said they actively "cultivate" donors, while only 60 percent of chief development officers agreed.
  • Chief executives rated themselves higher than senior fundraisers did in spending an appropriate amount of time on raising money (44 percent versus 30 percent), on being comfortable asking for money (82 percent versus 55 percent), and actively thanking and showing appreciation to donors (68 percent versus 59 percent). 
What about the top fundraisers and executives at your organization? Is a lack of understanding about fundraising issues causing turnover and other problems?
Grants: 6 Six Principles For Acquisition Work
Facing vast funding demands, nonprofit boards all too often assign the executive director the quixotic task of slaying every dragon with a grant. The roof is falling in? Get a grant. Can't afford administrative salaries? Get a grant.
According to Barbara A. Floersch, director of The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, a successful grant acquisition program can do a lot, but not everything. It's just one element of what should be a diverse fund development plan. To set your grant acquisition work on the right track, keep these six principles in mind.
  1. A grant is a transaction in which your organization receives money to perform an activity that will achieve an agreed upon result. A grant is an obligation, not free money.
  2. Grants should respond to needs identified through a planning or assessment process. Successful grants aren't based on what someone thinks, believes, or assumes. They're based on facts.
  3. To win grants, you need an informed view of what grants can and can't do. Grants aren't for erasing deficits or rescuing organizations that are collapsing because board members and administrators have been asleep at the wheel, according to Floersch.
  4. A grant acquisition program must be based on solid research on grantmakers and government funding programs. You've got to understand what funders are interested in and what they actually support. Spraying hundreds of foundations with generic requests and then praying for results (the spray and pray approach) will get you nowhere.
  5. With foundation and corporate grantmakers, relationships matter. The grant acquisition effort should work hand-in-hand with the board and administration to build and maintain targeted relationships.
  6. The grants effort requires support from many within the organization-it's not a one-person job. Administrators, human resources, finance, and program management must be involved. 
For more info on grants, go to www.tgci.com.
How to Diagnose and Survive the Current Facebook Reach Drought
Over the past few week or so there have been a lot of rumors about Facebook decreasing Pages' Reach.EdgeRank Checker released a quick study looking at how Pages have been impacted by this suspected change if you want to read more about the shift.
social fresh
In summary, it was found that organic reach is down 25%, viral reach is down 45%, and engagement decreased  17%, while virality marginally increased 7%. The rumored date that this change went into affect is September 20th, according to Ogilvy. So the above research was ran for  the week prior to September 20th and the week after September 20th.
As more data is collected in the coming weeks, EdgeRank Checker will get a clearer view of the trend, but it is clear a shift has occurred.

Click here to see how the change affected your Facebook page, what you can do to improve your reach, and what Facebook has to say about all this.
New Flexibility in Capital Grants, But Only For a Limited Time

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation is temporarily broadening its geographic focus for capital grants. Normally, funding nationally (beyond the Foundation's "hometowns") is restricted to grants for older adults and workforce development. Effective immediately through February  28, 2013, the Weinberg Foundation will consider capital grants throughout the United States in any of their program areas, subject to the Foundation's other grantmaking criteria. To facilitate requests fromweinberg foundation quality organizations, The Weinberg Foundation is streamlining its usual grantmaking process. The Foundation seeks to identify capital projects with:
  • Specific plans already confirmed for the project including value engineered drawings or the equivalent and including specific, confirmed, total project costs
  • At least 50% of the funds already pledged and collected (a detailed, certified list demonstrating this information will be required as part of the grant application) 
  • Projects that are "shovel ready" or well underway
  • Projects that provide services that match the grantmaking criteria outlined by the Foundation for each program area  
Again, the Weinberg Foundation will only support quality organizations that meet its priorities and follow its capital grant requirements. If you believe that you have a project which merits consideration, please contact the appropriate program director for the respective program area involved. The program director will follow-up on next steps if the request for a full proposal is approved. Please keep in mind that Weinberg Foundation support is limited to a 30% maximum of any project but there is no limit on the size of the project.
To learn more about the Weinberg Foundation's temporary broadening of geographic focus for capital grants, please click here.

Jennifer Dubrow Weiss has been appointed as the new CEO for the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. She will begin on October 21st, succeeding the retiring CEO, Joel Kaber. The appointment follows an extensive national search conducted in collaboration with The Jewish Federations of North America Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence.
samost jfcs  

Weiss has a rich history of more than two decades in Jewish communal service. At Samost Jewish Family and Children's Service of Southern NJ, she began as a social worker, and eventually served as director of senior services and JFCS assistant executive director. She then served as the agency's executive director for seven years.

During her years of service to the Jewish community, Weiss was responsible for starting the ACHAD program at the Katz JCC for individuals with special needs and their families. She coordinated the "Special Games" component to the Maccabi Games when they were hosted by the Katz JCC, which was only the second time they had ever been offered as a part of the Games.

2012 Webinar Series for AJFCA:  Ensuring the Economic Security of Older Adultsncoa logo
The National Council On Aging is hosting a complimentary three part webinar series exclusively for AJFCA member agencies focused on ensuring the economic security of older adults. Please email Megan for additional details including registration information.
Making Wise Decisions With Home Equity: New Tools for a New Retirement Reality
Americans are facing increasing financial challenges due to job insecurity during their working years and cutbacks in pension coverage, retiree health benefits, and public programs that help mitigate uncertainties in later life. With limited financial options, many seniors are turning to home equity as a source of extra cash in retirement. But without a financial game plan to manage this asset, older homeowners may be putting their family finances at further risk.

Understand the challenges older adults face in deciding how and when to tap home equity and discover new tools and resources that can help them make informed decisions about this valuable asset. This information is especially valuable for low- to middle-income seniors, who have traditionally been underserved by financial advisors and are often victims of predatory lending and financial abuse.
Speaker: Barbara Stucki, Ph.D., Vice President of Home Equity Initiatives, National Council on Aging

Making Wise Decisions With Home Equity: New Tools for a New Retirement Reality
Tuesday, October 30th, 3:00pm ET - Email Megan for registration details.

Benefits Access for Older Adults: Helping Clients Find Programs to Boost Their Economic Security  
One in three older Americans is economically insecure-lacking the resources needed to meet basic food, housing, and medical needs.

For these vulnerable older adults, who may have few opportunities to increase their earnings, public and private benefits can be a critical tool to help them free up limited income. Yet millions of seniors who qualify for this help are not enrolled in programs that can help them pay for food, prescriptions, medical care, and household utilities.

Learn about these benefits and how can we increase knowledge and access to them in this webinar.
Speaker: Brandy Bauer, Communications Manager, Economic Security, National Council on Aging

Benefits Access for Older Adults: Helping Clients Find Programs to Boost Their Economic Security 
Tuesday, November 13th, 3:00pm ET - Email Megan for registration details

Savvy Saving Seniors - A Toolkit for Money Management from NCOA
NCOA created the Savvy Saving Seniors toolkit which provides practical, easy-to-use ways to build for good money management skills so that the 13 million older adults who live on less than $22,000 can achieve greater economic security. Learn about the key components of the toolkit that professionals can use to educate seniors on (budgeting, avoiding scams and applying for benefit programs) critical skills they need to stay secure and independent in their communities. Discover additional resources included in NCOA's Economic Security Initiative that will benefit professionals.
Speaker: Ramsey Alwin, Senior Director, Economic Security, National Council on Aging

Savvy Saving Seniors - A Toolkit for Money Management from NCOA
Tuesday, December 18th, 3:00pm ET - Email Megan for registration details
10 Super Solid Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit Email List Now
Despite the explosive growth of social media, email is still the nonprofit killer app. It's your direct connection to supporters (plus you own that relationship, not Facebook!) and should, along with your website, form the foundation of your online strategy. Ask any successful nonprofit which online tool triggers the bulk of their donations, advocacy actions and volunteer sign-ups, and they will say email.
And the core, immutablcharityhowtoe law of nonprofit email marketing is - Always Be Growing Your List. Why? People leave your list. Email addresses die. Subscribers stop responding. Your list performance withers. You need fresh interest, and that's best given by new subscribers. Whether you are starting from scratch, looking to go beyond a monthly trickle of new subscribers, or wanting to go big, you can learn how to grow your email list with these 10 proven tactics.
This free nonprofit webinar is a complementary course to "AWESOME CAMPAIGNS: How to Plan a Successful Online Fundraiser."
In this webinar you will learn how to:
  • Practice your ABC's (Always Be Collecting) every time, everywhere
  • Execute specific, fun, creative campaigns that attract qualified subscribers
  • Turn your direct-mail subscribers into online subscribers 
  • Acquire supporters through sponsored actions such as petitions and pledges 

10 Super Solid Ways to Grow Your Nonprofit Email List Now
Monday, October 22nd, 11:00am ET - REGISTER HERE
Better Nonprofit Storytelling
Learn about better nonprofit storytelling with the Nonprofit Marketing Guide. Here are the three kinds of stories you'll learn how to tell if you participate: nonprofit marketing guide
  1. The Challenge Plot - The challenge plot is your basic, three-act structure that practically every Hollywood movie is based on. These are your classic underdog, against-all-odds stories. One common mistake nonprofits use when telling Challenge stories is making themselves the hero. These stories work best when the main character is a client, volunteer, donor or someone else involved in or affected by your work, but not the nonprofit itself. 
  2. The Creativity Plot - Creativity stories create those big "Aha!" moments and tell those "what if we ... " stories that work out in the end, even though the idea may seem a little too crazy or bold at the start. For a good creativity plot, you need a well-understood problem and a standard response that just doesn't work. Again, use the people around you - clients, volunteers, donors - to explain the problem and inadequate solution. Then introduce the new approach that your nonprofit or someone affiliated with your nonprofit is trying.
  3. The Connection Plot - Of the three different story plots, this one is the hardest to pull off. If you don't get it right, your story will sound sappy or manipulative. But like the others, if you can identify the different parts and find the right way to string them together, you'll have a very powerful story. These stories usually have a little surprise or epiphany in them that really drives the point home. It's a nice little story, but the meaning doesn't become really profound until you add in those last few surprising details or revelations. 
Wednesday, October 24th, 1:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
Community Wellness Curricula: NIH's We Can! and Bodyworks
Learn about the National Institutes of Health's wellness curricula We Can! and Bohhs logodyWorks, and how communities are using these curricula to encourage healthy lifestyles. 
As trusted community leaders, faith-based and neighborhood organizations are key partners in solving the problems that lead to childhood obesity and addressing related issues of hunger. Please visit www.letsmove.gov/communities for more information on Let's Move Faith and Communities.

Community Wellness Curricula: NIH's We Can! and Bodyworks
Wednesday, October 24th, 2:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
Forcing Change: 6 Ways to Drive Innovation and Deliver Results
Technology has disrupted the way nonprofits operate - how they communicate, engage with donors and measure impact. While most organizations recognize the importance of embracing new ideas and evolving their approach, their internal culture often discourages real change and promotes thinking that avoids risk.
Learn how to systematically transform your nonprofit's culture so you can embrace new concepts, foster true innovation and tackle the latest and greatest organizational challenges from the inside out.
chronicle philanthropy
This exciting webinar is sponsored by CDS Global and hosted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Forcing Change: 6 Ways to Drive Innovation and Deliver Results
Thursday, November 1st, 2:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
The Three R's of Communication Planning
Creating a solid multi-channel communication plan is the foundation to ensuring your organization meets your fundraising goals and builds enduring relationships with your supporters.
Learn the three R's of communication planning through:
  • Getting to know your audience and their preferences
  • Developing solid messaging that will earn their response
  • Determining messaging frequency and channel mix
  • Leveraging content across channels
  • Constructing a communications plan that enables fundraising success 
This web event is sponsored by Blackbaud and hosted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. All content presented during the event is provided by Blackbaud.

The Three R's of Communication Planning: Right Message + Right Person + Right Time
Tuesday, November 6th, 2:00pm ET - REGISTER HERE
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